There’s nowhere more magical during the festive season than Europe. Here are our picks of the most exceptional Christmas markets.
Stuttgart, Germany Nov 23 – Dec 23
Since 1692, the Stuttgarter Weihnachtsmarkt has been an iconic destination for the Christmas season. From the Schlossplatz to the Marktplatz, some 300 stalls sit compete for the coveted title of “best decorated”.
Look out for handmade Black Forest specialities, such as felted slippers and real horsehair brushes, knitted hats and artisanal fruit brandies. While the fair is on, classical concerts are held in the Renaissance courtyard of the Old Palace.
Bruges, Belgium Nov 18 – Jan 1
The main stalls in Bruges are found in Market Square, overlooked by the 13th-century Belfort (belfry), and in Simon Stevinplein. There are plenty of places to buy handmade jewellery, wooden toys, hats and scarves, leather goods and, of course, chocolates.
Strasbourg, France Nov 25 – Dec 31
Strasbourg Christmas Market is the oldest in France, since 1570, it is regarded as the popular in all of Europe. There are 300 stalls dotted around 11 different locations in the center of the city, mostly around the magnificent Gothic Cathedral and along the Place Austerlitz, Place Gutenberg, and the Place Kléber.
Vienna, Austria Nov 12 – Dec 24
Vienna’s Christmas-market tradition dates back to the 13th century. It now has around 10 markets, with more than 150 stalls filling the Rathausplatz in front of the neo-Gothic City Hall. Miniature wooden houses, puppets, gingerbread hearts, leather clothing and woollen hats are all heavily featured for that festive cheer.
St Gallen, Switzerland Nov 24 – Dec 24
Only an hour from Zurich, St Gallen ticks all the magical advent boxes: a Baroque cathedral, ornate Medieval buildings, and picture-perfect views of snow-covered mountains. Kicking off the festive fun is the lighting of Switzerland’s tallest Christmas tree, accompanied by carol singing.